Sunday, September 20, 2015

Swimming Dalco Passage

That crazy, crazy Dalco. What was supposed to be a crossing of 3k instead (due to small craft warnings and white capped waters on the Vashon side) turned into a much, much longer alternate course that totalled 4800 very jagged yards on my Garmin GPS. The pal I talked into swimming it with me will probably never do the swim again, and others bailed on the course mid race.

There was a bitch of a current pushing west, it was cold, and good lord the alternate course they re-rigged at the last minute was more than 30% longer. Racers were fatigued, chafed, challenged and some were just plain mad. I was just really shocked by how overshot the course was but felt totally safe swimming it, and a little bummed not to do the crossing which is so breathtaking. This was my last race before surgery and I wasn't going to bail.

I finished and walked away with 3rd place female overall, so there's that!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Alcatraz 2.0 - getting faster!

I think I officially have Alcatraz fever. Well, I have just completed my second Alcatraz swim in five weeks, and I'm home with a fever (and cold) today...so who knows!

My Hidden Beach mermaid friends ventured to Alcatraz to do the South End Rowing Club 1.25-mile swim. After a local fundraising swim event, they persuaded me to come along. By the fates, six of us managed to make the trip! Saturday early in the day, Diana, Christine and I flew down to meet the others.
Diana and Christine

We shared the executive suite at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf and dollar for dollar we did well. It's a room that begs for company and pre-func cocktails. Lunch Saturday in Inner Richmond at Burma Superstar (go go go!) was followed by a scenic walk through the Presidio back to the Wharf, totaling 9 miles of walking according to my Garmin by bedtime. We stopped to eyeball Aquatic Park and the conditions (cloudy, coldish water) and picked up packets right in time for the pre-party at South End Rowing Club. 

Dinner was with our fellow swimmers Michael and Kate and their loves. Carb-loading at North End Restaurant, an Italian fine dining spot in its wine cave, flanked by attentive waiters was fun. 

Sleep for all of us was scant but we were rested enough and race ready by Sunday. We bumped into our sixth Hidden Beach swimmer, Curtis, in the morning darkness while walking to South End Rowing Club.

It was cloudy, with a slight breeze, and we were super excited! Seas were rolling gently but the surface water was not nearly as choppy and windblown as the Sharkfest version I swam Aug. 9. 

Christine sums the experience best in her Facebook post: 
"The current is no joke. 90% of the swim from Alcatraz was just awe and appreciation. Awe: Beautiful sea-foam green water, cool rock-prison island behind, the City in front of you. Appreciation for being strong and healthy enough to do it and have a husband and friends who support these adventure swims. And then you hit the current when you're nearly done and you realize you have to swim for your m* fucking life to get past the bulkhead. Alcatraz, I'll be back ready to strategize that last 10% again! But either way it's a total success! LOVE IT!!"

Because the Garmin was flipped on about 20 seconds after I jumped and swam away from the boat, my actual finish time was 43 mins, 2 seconds. I am totally happy with that! The Alcatraz Sharkfest version that is 1.5 miles does not time your actual swim from the jump, but rather a "gun time" (and if you're not yet at the start line when the race starts then you don't have a true time!), so I never had the actual time. THIS time I had both a chip start AND my Garmin 920xt tracking the route and time. See the map above. That current was going absolutely opposite at the seawall (from my swim last month), running West to East and WHAT A STRUGGLE! Constant sighting and giving it everything...pointing at a 45-degree westward direction was the only way I avoided missing the hole into aquatic park. 

We all came into shore bit by bit and shared similar war stories over a very long and leisurely, wine-filled brunch. And then a delayed flight home for me and Christine that night. On the flight descent came a sneeze attack and now a rotten virus! 

At least I have these great memories. We swim all year together in open water, and events like these (Fat Salmon, Swim for Life, Alcatraz) are fun and healthy things to work toward. I'll be back! 


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